> 19 entries set for Japan’s legendary Summer Endurance Race
> Entry list: Suzuka 10 Hours
The cream of Asia’s sim racing crop tackle the first of three GT World Challenge Asia Esports Endurance Series rounds this Saturday at the legendary Suzuka where 19 entries will do battle over 10 hours on Assetto Corsa Competizione.
SRO Motorsports Group’s European championship has already staged virtual long-distance events this year, while Asia and America’s series have only featured 60-minute races so far. But that all changes in Japan where Sprint rivals join forces in teams comprising three drivers.
What’s more, the absence of runaway Sprint Series points leaders Dayne Warren and VRS Coanda Simsport – winner of all three rounds staged so far – guarantees several new names will visit Victory Lane this weekend.
And with just three Endurance rounds to contend, a fast start is essential to winning a share of the championship’s €15,000 prize fund.
FAMOUS RACE ATTRACTS FAMILIAR FACES
The real-world Suzuka 10 Hours, or Summer Endurance Race as it’s known locally, has been staged 48 times since its inception in 1966. For the majority of those years Asia’s most prestigious long-distance GT race featured a 1000km distance but switched to the current 10-hour format in 2018 after joining Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli’s calendar.
Now, and for the first time, the same concept will appear in the realms of an officially sanctioned sim race.
What’s more, the Asia Esports Sprint Series has yet to visit Suzuka this season, making it difficult to gauge which of the team, driver and car combinations are best suited to its fast but also highly technical layout.
As a rule, the Mercedes-AMG GT3 performs well at most ACC circuits. But its results at Suzuka in 2020’s GT World Challenge Asia Esports finale were the weakest of an otherwise exceptional campaign. Saturday’s entry features four cars, all of which – in terms of teams and driver personnel – should be near the sharp end. Reigning Sprint champion Andika Rama Maulana joins forces with Dillan Tan and Moreno Pratama in one of Legion of Racers’ two entries, while another Asia regular – Laundry House – features the combined talents of Philippa Boquida, Andrew Laurenson and Terry Rayton. Geraedts Racing and a second Legion of Racers entry also featuring Sprint regulars complete Mercedes-AMG’s line-up.
Bentley has won all three Sprint races this year so it’s no surprise to see four Continentals – the joint most with Mercedes-AMG – lining up on Saturday. How they fare without Dayne Warren or VRS Coanda Simsport remains to be seen, but both Inspeed Racing and Flash Axle Sports have already demonstrated their potential. Indeed, Naquib Azlan lies fifth in the Sprint standings after finishing second in Round 2. LOR x Tarmac eMotorsports complete the quartet.
JMX Phantom and Fadhli Rachmat have also used the Bentley to good effect this year and lie third in the Sprint standings behind Warren and Maulana, but switch to McLaren for Suzuka’s Endurance race. Theirs is one of three 720S GT3s on an entry that also features the squad’s junior team and Octane Community Simsport.
Another Asia Esports regular, Wako’s Fliptable Racing, also switch manufacturers this weekend when its familiar pink and purple livery adorns an Aston Martin, which won at Suzuka last season. A second Vantage will be run by Z-Challenger Racing who have also entered a Lamborghini.
Predator MAVs Esports complete the Huracan roster, while two NSXs – one entered by HPD JAS’s official esports squad – fly the flag for Honda on home soil.
A single Ferrari, entered by Full Pace Racing, and Porsche, featuring SACCESS eSports’ all Japanese crew, complete the 19-strong entry.
Live coverage of the virtual Suzuka 10 Hours begins this Saturday at 16:00 AEST / 14:00 HKT / 08:00 CEST / 06:00 GMT on SRO’s GT World YouTube channel and Twitch before the race starts 10 minutes later.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: ASIA ESPORTS ENDURANCE SERIES
Entries must comprise three drivers each of whose total drive-time across the 10-hour race cannot exceed 260 minutes.
The maximum stint length is 65 minutes but drivers may complete as many successive stints as the team wishes provided their total drive-time is not exceeded.
A 30-minute practice session and 15-minute qualifying session immediately precede the race. Grid positions are determined by each crew’s fastest individual lap rather than a cumulative or average time.
Points are awarded to the top-10 finishers on the basis of:
1st 25 - 2nd 18 - 3rd 15 - 4th 12 - 5th 10 - 6th 8 - 7th 6 - 8th 4 - 9th 2 - 10th 1
The top-five teams at the end of the season will each win a share of the €15,000 prize fund.
SUZUKA 10 HOURS TIMETABLE
04:30 GMT / 12:30 HKT: Free Practice (30mins)
05:15 GMT / 13:15 HKT: Qualifying (15mins)
06:10 GMT / 14:10 HKT: Race